Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 April 2020

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar lead sporting tributes to Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Neymar dedicated his goal to the basketball star during Paris Saint-Germain's victory

Sports stars, including Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazilian Neymar, took to social media on Monday to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people died in the crash in Calabasas, California.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar became aware of Bryant's death during half-time in his side's 2-0 win at Lille, and then dedicated his second half goal to the NBA player by holding up two fingers on one hand and four on the other in reference to Bryant's number 24 LA Lakers shirt.

"It's deeply saddening for the world of sport and for all of us," said Neymar to Canal+ after the win, which put PSG 10 points clear at the top of the league.

"Not just for basketball fans, but for everything he did for sport."

He then posted a tribute on Instagram, thanking Bryant for all he did for sport.

Fellow footballer Messi said on Instagram that he was "lost for words" before adding that Bryant was "a genius" with whom he had shared good times with.

Ronaldo meanwhile posted a black and white image on his Instagram accompanied by the message: "So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. Kobe was a true legend and inspiration to so many. Sending my condolences to his family and friends and the families of all who lost their lives in the crash. RIP Legend."

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford described Bryant as "a true inspiration in the sporting industry", while other players from across sporting world also spoke out, along with US President Donald Trump.

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios walked on to the Rod Laver Arena wearing a No 8 Kobe Bryant Jersey ahead of his fourth round match against Rafael Nadal on day eight of the Australian Open.

Bryant is considered a legend in the NBA, making 18 All-Star teams during his 20-year career with the Lakers. He retired from the game in 2016.

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More on Kobe Bryant:

Remembering when Kobe Bryant visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai - in pictures

Obituary: Kobe Bryant, a transcendent star who never took a night off

NBA legend Kobe Bryant's career in numbers

Updated: January 27, 2020 02:29 PM

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